La Frontière de l’aube (2008)

18 03 2009

More of the same from Garrel here, he isn’t going to convert any non-believers with this effort, but he is going to satisfy the taste buds of his fans. Personally, I have no problems whatsoever with his world consisting of attractive and depressed people falling love with other attractive and depressed people. Sure, it’s not ground breaking or even a slight alteration in the scope of his career, but it is pretty good for what it is. If there’s really anything I can out of this film that I wouldn’t from Garrel’s other recent efforts its that seemingly all “romantic” modern French directors are fascinated by super natural concepts.

The still slightly unrecognized Jean-Pierre Civeyrac is probably the best example of this phenomenon. In almost all of his most recent films, a character is haunted by a recently deceased character. Obviously, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that Through the Forest isn’t a film interested in scaring the audience or even surprising them. Instead, all these recent ghost love stories have just changed some specifics to the whole nostalgic romance tone of Wong Kar-Wai. I admire both Civeyrac and Garrel for attempting to produce more accurate depictions of ghosts, but maybe mainstream film has just diluted the power of such a concept. In that respect, I can’t help but laugh when a dead Laura Smet talks to Louis Garrel through a mirror.

Unlike Civeyrac’s ghost stories, Garrel introduces the ghost-to-be during her existence as a living human being, as opposed to a dead one. There’s merits in both narrative routes, but I personally align my tastes more towards Civeyrac’s as I think it is closer to the aforementioned tone of nostalgic romance. Garrel’s narrative plays out in a rather straight-forward way. Smet and Garrel fall in love, complications ensues, Smet dies, and Garrel tries to move on. He, as one might expect, fails and this provides much of the drive for the film’s final fourty minutes or so.

While I completely understand, and in some respects, agree with the criticism Garrel has recieved, I found the best sequences to be the closet to self-parody. The early sequences between Smet and Garrel aren’t all that different from any number of scenes Garrel has made in the past ten years, but the half-hearted attempt at trying something new may indicate that Garrel should stay in his comfort zone. Assuming he does, I’ll always be willing to eat it up.

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